The most obvious thing that catches your eye when you enter Hawke’s Bay’s first social supermarket is the prices.
There are none.
Instead, you’re greeted by three things.
There’s a friendly face at the door (manager Lisa Hammond was that face on Tuesday), a handy explainer sheet telling you how to shop, and stickers detailing how many ‘points’ items cost.
This Nourished for Nil and Foodstuffs’ initiative on Edmundson St in the Napier suburb of Onekawa has been set up for people facing food insecurity.
A social supermarket is a place where people who typically use a foodbank service can choose what items they want as opposed to receiving a traditional food parcel.
It runs on a points-based system with heavily subsidised food for sale, which Nourished for Nil founder Christina McBeth says is about “dignity and choice”.
People in need are referred to the supermarket by various community agencies. They pay a $20 (or more if they can) upfront charge and are assigned a set number of points depending on how many people are in their family.
“It’s really important that we get the right message out from the start in that this is a subsidised environment to purchase food,” McBeth said.
“It’s not just open to anyone that can afford to go to a normal supermarket, it’s for people in situations that they find dire.”
The Onekawa site isn’t on a scale of the likes of New World but there are roughly five aisles full of everything from toothbrushes to fresh produce.
Tuesday’s opening saw two trollies sitting at the front of the store, each stacked to the brim with items. They both had numbers stuck to the front reflecting how many points each trolley would be worth.
Fifty-five points (the estimate of points given to a single adult) could get you quite a lot, with staples like fresh fruit and veggies, milk and bread all pretty much reminiscent of a normal weekly shop.
Between $0-2 is one point and $2-4 is two points, so you’re going to find things like meat for four or five points because that’s the equivalent you will find in a supermarket.
Around 50 agencies have already signed up to be a part of the initiative.
“There’s always that thought in the background that maybe people will think this isn’t necessary or something they would recommend, so it’s really exciting to see so many in the community show support,” McBeth said.
Pak ’n Save Tamatea is acting as a ‘buddy store’ that will help provide support, supplies and guidance to those running the supermarket.
“We’ve been a strong advocate for wanting to see it here, sooner rather than later,” owner-operator Andrew Graney said.
Pak ’n Save and other vendor partners will continue to help restock and provide the means to help sustain the supermarket.
“Supermarkets are our game. With something like this we can offer quite a bit of support,” Graney said.
Mitchell Hageman joined Hawke’s Bay Today in late January. From his Napier base, he writes regularly on social issues, arts and culture, and the community. He has a particular love for stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things.